Since 1780 the Society has been led by Presidents who have given their time and energy to the charity.

Dates of Presidency followed by date of election as a Fellow in brackets.

Founder and first Vice-President (1780-92), David Steuart Erskine, 11th Earl of Buchan

1780-92 (1780) John Stuart, 3rd Earl of Bute

1792-1813 (*1781) James Graham, 4th Duke of Montrose

1813-19 (*1781) Lawrence Dundas, Baron Dundas (later 1st Earl of Zetland)

1819-23 (1815) Francis Gray, 14th Lord Gray

1823-41 (1823) Thomas Bruce, 7th Earl of Elgin and 11th Earl of Kincardine

1841-44 (1841) James Bruce, 8th Earl of Elgin and 12th Earl of Kincardine

1844-62 (1845) Walter Francis Mantagu-Douglas-Scott, 5th Duke of Buccleuch and 7th Duke of Queensberry

1872-76 (1867) George Granville William Sutherland-Leveson-Gower, 3rd Duke of Sutherland

1876-1900 (1870) Schomberg Henry Kerr, 9th Marquess of Lothian

1900-13 (1884) Sir Herbert Eustace Maxwell of Monreith, 7th Baronet

1913-18 (1879) John Abercromby, LLD (later 5th Baron Abercromby)

1918-23 (1888) Thomas David Gibson-Carmichael, 1st Baron Carmichael

1923-33 (1917) John George Murray, 8th Duke of Atholl

1933-40 (1900) Sir George Macdonald, KCD LLD DLitt FBA

1940-45 (1892) Sir John Stirling-Maxwell of Pollok, 10th Baronet

1945-50 (1945) George Baillie-Hamilton, 12th Earl of Haddington

1950-55 (1930) Professor Sir William Moir Calder, LLD FBA

1955-60 (1952) James Latham McDiarmid Clyde, the Rt Hon Lord Clyde

1960-65 (1927) James Frederick Gordon Thomson, the Hon Lord Migdale

1965-67 (1961) Major-General James Scott-Elliott, CB CBE DSO

1967-72 (1938) Professor Stuart Piggott, CBE DLitt FBA

1972-75 (1938) Dr Kenneth Arthur Steer, CBE PhD

1975-78 (1939) Robert Barron Kerr Stevenson, CBE

1978-81 (1964) Ronald Gordon Cant, DLitt

1981-84 (1948) Stewart Maxwell MA

1984-87 (1973) Professor Leslie Alcock MA FSA FRSE FRHistS

1987-90 (1970) Professor David J Breeze OBE BA PhD FSA HonFSAScot

1990-93 (1965) Dr Anna Ritchie OBE BA PhD FSA HonFSAScot

1993-96 (1965) Gordon Stirling Maxwell MA FSA FSAScot

1996-99 (1987) Professor Michael Lynch MA PhD FRSE FRHistS

1999-2002 (1965) James Neil Graham Ritchie MA MBA PhD FSA

2002-05 (1968) Lisbeth Margaret Thoms MBE BSc DipArch HonFSAScot

2005-08 (1969) Professor Roger James Mercer OBE MA FSA FRSE HonMCIfA

2008-11 (1964) Dr Barbara Crawford OBE MA PhD FSA FRSE FSAScot

2011-14 (1989) Alan Saville BA FSA FSAScot MCIfA

2014-20 (1971) Dr David Hepburn Caldwell MA PhD FSA FSAScot

2020-23 (1969) Professor Ian B Ralston OBE MA PhD FSA FRSE MIfA FSAScot

2023-Present (1976) Diana Murray CBE MA(Cantab) FSA HonFSAScot FRSE FRSGS MCIfA MIoD



Browse our range of high-quality books in the online shop



View our publications and how to publish with us

Join Us

Join Us

Interested in Scotland's past?



Delve into the Society’s digital archives

Research & Projects

Research & Projects

Learn about recent research supported by the Society

Grants & Awards

Grants & Awards

See how we recognise excellence and support research

Help us to do more

Help us: champion research; stimulate discussion; enhance public understanding; and share our extraordinary heritage. Donate directly to the Society now.